With a history painted in the blood of their ancestors, it should come as no surprise that the Dwarves were -- and can still be -- some of Aloria’s most reserved and suspicious people. A trait they’ve become nothing short of famous for. Repeated tragedy in their homelands has forced the Dwarves to immigrate into Ailor society, and -- after centuries of mixed breeding -- has separated the once-monotonous Stout Folk into two distinct subraces with wildly varying views and ideologies. The Aldor and Humorrin represent some of the most divided peoples of the same race. Regardless of subspecies, Dwarves are known as an extremely hardy, adaptable people with strong minds for skepticism and problem solving. Despite continuing hardships, their unmatched adaptability and stubbornness ensures their future survival.
In an extremely basic sense, Dwarves can be described as very short humanoids, though upon even idle inspection their proportional differences become apparent. Dwarves are broader than their Ailor cousins by a considerable margin; enough to make them have a comparable weight despite their lacking height. A Dwarf will never grow above five feet in height, and the smallest of them come in at four. Females tend to be a few inches shorter and less broad than the males, but this still makes them stockier than other Human races. A Dwarf’s lifespan is about 130 years, but earlier deaths are common (especially among the Humorrin). Females also seem to live longer than the males on average. Curiously, Dwarves age at a slower rate than Ailor by a tiny margin. They reach maturity at a comparable speed, but their adult years seem to be kinder on them until they reach more advanced ages. If a number were to be applied, it could be said that Dwarves age about twenty-five percent slower than Humans in adulthood. Additionally, contrary to popular rumor, female Dwarves are not capable of growing facial hair.
All Dwarves have three interesting traits owed to their stocky bodies and the hardy lifestyle of their ancestors. Their respiratory systems are incredibly adaptive after evolving to suit the harsh conditions their ancestors endured. This means that Dwarves can extract oxygen from heavily contaminated or dirty air. They’re capable of breathing smoke (even Obscura smoke) with only minor discomfort, and poison gasses have dramatically reduced effects on them. For example, gas potent enough to knock out an Ailor will only make a Dwarf feel very fatigued. Sadly, Dwarves are still vulnerable to poisons entering their bodies through other means, their immunity stretches only as far as breathable toxins. The stereotype that Dwarves are ‘tough’ is a mostly misplaced one, they bruise and break just as easily as other Human races. However, Dwarves have a curiously accelerated healing rate when compared to other Human races. As a general rule, a Dwarf will spend half as much time in a healing house than an Ailor will with identical injuries. A Dwarf’s wounds will clot fairly quickly, blood forming into thick, protective scabs to shelter open injuries.
Dwarves have an extremely demanding nutrient intake due to this fantastic healing ability, as well as their powerful bodies. Most Dwarves who live even average lives will garner enough exercise to maintain a healthy physique, mostly in thanks to the increased effort it takes for them to move around due to their short legs. Inactive Dwarves, however, will suffer physically. This is most often seen in Dwarven of Mage level or above. Any Dwarf who commits to magic of this level or something equally as demanding will inevitably become either incredibly weak and frail or incredibly fat. One case even crippled a Dwarven mage of expert level because of his continued neglect of physical activity. An expanded lifespan means Dwarf mages are nothing to underestimate, but they’re very easy to spot among their kin.
Finally, Dwarves also have powerful genes; more powerful than those of the Ailor. Half-Dwarves will always look more Dwarven than not, and while they don’t inherit the race’s lifespan or slowed aging, they do inherit the above quirks at a lessened effectiveness. Half-Dwarves are an increasingly common sight in Ellador due to the continent’s huge population of Dwarven refugees. Half-Humorrin and Half-Aldor look distinctly different. The latter effectively look like shorter, wider versions of their other parent race. Half-Humorrin become even shorter, wider, and bulkier. They also sport the large, dramatic faces of their Dwarven parentage. As a final note, a half-Dwarf will always age at the same speed as an Ailor, with an identical lifespan, regardless of parent races.
Humorrin appear as the more ‘traditional’ Dwarf, and up until 26 AC, they were the only species of Dwarf in existence. Their facial features are large and dramatic, especially the brow, nose, ears, and jaw. They tend to style themselves aggressively, with braided or wildly-cut hair, somewhat akin to the warriors of Nordskag. Braids, mohawks, shaved heads, or grown-out hair are all common. Males are also fond of growing out and styling their beards with equal dramaticism. Humorrin lie on the more extreme end of the physical spectrum for Human species, and are capable of carrying around twice their body weight on their backs. Males and females aren’t entirely similar, but they’re certainly not diverse, with universally broad, strong builds. With origins in the Elladorian Holds, their skin is always on the paler side and their hair is always light, with blondes, reds, and lighter browns as the vastly dominant colors. Common eye colors are greys, blues, and occasional greens.
Aldor have undergone centuries of inbreeding with Ailor cultures, and as a result look far more approachable and pleasant than their Humorrin counterparts. They have very similar faces to the Ailor, but mostly maintain a stocky, Dwarven build (Though, naturally, they aren't as wide as the Humorrin). Gender diversity has also been wildly enhanced by mixed genetics. Male Aldor tend to have broader, rather masculine frames, while female Aldor tend to have smaller (but still broad by Ailor standards), rather feminine frames. Physically, Aldor are less impressive than their cousins, and while they can hold more weight than an Ailor, they tend to lose out in shoving matches due to their short limbs. Perhaps the most notable trait of the Aldor is their diversity. Centuries of blending with Ailor culture has spread the Aldor far and wide. They can be found as far as Daendroc or Ithania, and their skin, hair, and eye color vary as much as the natives of these lands. An Aldor from Daendroc can be darkly tanned with brown hair and eyes, for example.
Dwarf mentality varies wildly dependent on the subject’s subspecies, and it can be hard to find common ground between an Aldor and a Humorrin. In their own ways, both species have a strong, directed cynicism about them that leads them to be hypercritical of different ideas. If approached incorrectly, they can be extremely hard to work with, especially if their ideals are opposed.
Aldor see themselves as a prime argument against traditionalism, and are heavily skeptical of the concept. They value free will and thought over structure and limitations and reject the idea of fate, rarely accepting a sour situation without doing all they can to remedy it. Aldor make fantastic pragmatists, inventors, and handymen, with a curious genetic inclination towards identifying components that gives them a particular edge towards the latter two. Their thought process is immediate and impulsive, with value placed in snap decisions and following one’s whims. Aldor are heavily susceptible to temptation, cravings, and addictions as a result of this, though they often fail to see these as negative things, carefree as they are. Emotionally, the Aldor are generally good empathetics. They recognise the struggles of others with relative ease, and relate with most people easily. Aldor connect with people well, but they’re just as likely to become absorbed in pursuing their own innovations and ideas, throwing aside good manners and other social obligations to become truly free spirits.
Mentally, the Humorrin are far more notable; with a near-universal distrust for anything that hasn’t been tried and tested for hundreds of years, Humorrin are traditionalists of unmatched extremes. They value unity and stubbornness, and work to maintain strong, close-knit circles of friends, coworkers, or neighbors. Curiously, this communal sense makes the Humorrin oddly accepting of other races and cultures. So long as somebody is in their circle, a Humorrin will accept them without issue. In a way, this makes the Humorrin more racially accepting than their Aldor cousins, who may have reservations about certain races. Unfortunately, Humorrin can become so entrenched in their standard thought process that new, unfamiliar decisions can distress or intimidate them. A Humorrin might take minutes to decide what drink to order at a bar they’ve never visited, and one with a sudden position of leadership thrust upon them can quickly break down into hysterics. Ultimately, a Humorrin will seek to control every aspect of their life in a way that makes it as predictable as possible. Humorrin rarely become bored or depressed simply because they’ve done something many times before. They’re entirely happy to relive the same moment time and time again, or sit in a comfortable silence for minutes on end. This makes the Humorrin famously emotionally stable. They tend to take hardships with little complaint provided they have their communities to rely on. The easiest way to shake a Humorrin emotionally is to disrupt their schedule or community. One of these Dwarves facing snap decisions will quickly become distressed and fearful.
The origin of the Dwarves is incredibly hard to pinpoint due to the extreme xenophobia and isolation that they subjected themselves to throughout most of their history. As far as nearly every other Alorian race knows, Dwarves literally popped out of the ground. In these early days, Dwarves are thought to have lived in much smaller colonies, with less spectacular, smaller underground burrows as homes. Some have speculated that early Dwarves were nomadic, but evidence for this is hard to come by.
The first ‘modern’ Dwarven Hold was the Ølovomm Hold, established somewhere around 700 BC by a group of a dozen or so Dwarven colonies who--in a rare moment of Humorrin innovation--observed the changing world around them and sought to unite themselves in order to remain relevant and successful in the developing world. Each colony’s Elder came together to form the Hold’s council, or “Khazur.” To this day, holds operate on a Khazur of exactly twelve elders. Even though this was never intended to be a permanent system, the fierce traditionalism of the Humorrin has set the method in stone for good.
Dwarven population skyrocketed due to Ølovomm’s success, and as the centuries went on, more Dwarves broke off from Ølovomm to form their own Holds in Ellador’s many mountain ranges. The holds Skorr, Østrey, Tehl-Humm, and Æthrammar were all born over the next few centuries, and operated on a disturbingly identical system to their father hold. In fact, every hold functioned so similarly that a Dwarf could be placed in any of them and live their life with near-complete familiarity, minus that with the populous. Years of prosperity tempted fate, and eventually the Dwarves had their first hostile encounter with another race.
The Humorrin were not unfamiliar with the other races of Aloria, but certainly treated them with distrust. The Dregodar had been long-time neighbours of the early Dwarves, but contact was sparse. Traditionally, the Dregodar constructed their temples atop the tallest mountains in the region, which often sat them right atop the Dwarven holds. The Humorrin only considered their lands to be subterranean, however, and it wasn’t until the interloping of the Elven Empire that the Dwarves were made to consider the threat of the Dregodar. Somewhere around 170 BC, after many months of infiltration and subterfuge, the Nelfin uncovered a laundering scheme devised by the Østrey Elders. The Khazur had long been exploiting the wealth redistribution system for personal gain, an unthinkable act in Humorrin society. Under threat of this secret being revealed, the Østrey Elders agreed to bolster their numbers for attack. The other holds soon followed suit after their brethren, Humorrin and Nelfin marching against the Dregodar in a rare moment of cooperation. Dregodar numbers were massacred, temples were destroyed, and their dragons were butchered. Though early stages of the conflict seemed successful, this falsehood would run its course in due time.
By 56 BC, the Nelfin-Dwarf alliance had dissolved due to the latter party’s growing distrust. Alone, the Dwarves continued their offence on the Dregodar and alone killed the last of the Black Scale Mountain Dragons. However, the beasts reincarnation as a Great Ice Dragon spelled disaster for the Dwarves. Hundreds, if not thousands of lives were lost to the dragon’s magic. Though the Dregodar vanished from Aloria after this event, the Dwarves took this loss heavily as it was their first substantial loss of life in war. Unbeknownst to the Dwarves, this series of events is essentially what created the Isldar Nelfin, as well as gave a large part of Ellador its signature chill. To this day the Dwarves remain mostly unaware of the Isldar, treating them only as outlandish Elves when they rarely do appear in their holds.
Dwarven history levelled for the next few decades, remaining steady and predictable just as its inhabitants demanded. Throughout and after the war with the Dregodar, holds had continued to sprout up, with the famous holds Brühl, Grebor, and Aldruin being formed around this time along with a few others. The Dwarves kept their doors sealed throughout the Cataclysm, still fearful and bitter over their interactions with the Elven Empire years ago. Despite their best efforts, doom eventually came from within to shake the Dwarven people.
The Dakkar were uncovered in 26 AC in the Hold of Skorr, which had grown famous for its bountiful and astronomically deep mines. The Dwarves of the hold were treated to immediate hostilities, and after years without conflict and no specialized weapons, the hold only held out against the Dakkar horde for three days before the populous was routed or slaughtered. The Hold of Skorr became the first of any Dwarven hold to fall. A year later, a second hold, Fummd, was overrun.
Dwarven refugees became common in surrounding Ailor settlements. These would become the Aldor over the course of time, but in these early days, they were treated with the same distrust their ancestors had shown the Ailor. The Dwarves and the Dakkar remained locked in a subterranean war for centuries. The next hold to fall was the first to rise, The Hold of Ølovomm, resulting in a massive crash in Dwarf morale.
Over the centuries, every hold save for Grebor and Aldruin fell, with the most recent victim of the Dakkar horde being the Hold of Brühl in 276 AC. Both remaining holds sealed their mines but took wildly varying approaches to defence. Grebor reluctantly opened its gates, embracing the mentality of the Aldor and flourishing in foreign trade. Many Humorrin left Grebor as a result, while the rest segregated themselves from the swelling non-Dwarf population to maintain their community-centric ideals. Aldruin, after welcoming the refugee Dwarves of Grebor, began fearing for the loss of their own traditions and shut their gates. To this day, Aldruin refuses entry to any outsiders. Parties only leave the hold to trade and raid surrounding Ailor villages. Tensions between the Aldruin Dwarves and the surrounding Ailor grows more by the day. Today, the conflict with the Dakkar has scaled back, but still technically continues. Excursions against the horde are still common in both holds, leaving the Dwarves and the Dakkar locked in a constant, unseen subterranean war.
Aldor society is practically nonexistent, and they tend to adapt to the society of whatever Ailor they integrate with. They’re quick to grasp social structure and order, even though they may not always agree with it. They blend well with Ailor to the point of accepting them as kin, even though this kindness may not always be repaid by the Ailor themselves. Aldor thrive in large, busy cities where they can indulge their wild, often fleeting interests and muses.
Humorrin society has a very strong, flat structure. It’s heavily community-oriented, with all participants in the society being seen as equals, provided they can pull their weight. Elders are chosen by the various communities and while respected, their word is more suggestion than law. Chosen Elders have exactly the same rights as other Humorrin, but are generally treated with more respect and gratitude. Humorrin society is so strong that those who leave it generally struggle to identify superiors and inferiors. A fresh trainee may be given a newly-forged Greborian Warhammer, while a hardened veteran may content himself to a simple club. Genders are technically equal within Humorrin society, but this doesn’t stop the males and females from having their preferences. Humorrin women tend to be more ambitious and fierce. They strive to become Elders, engravers, merchants, and so on. Males are far more humble and complacent. They’re happy to be smiths, soldiers, mining workers, and other less illustrious jobs. This isn’t to say that there aren’t male Elders, or female soldiers. This is only a common trend.
In general, Dwarves make for fantastic allies and team members with their unmatched pragmatism. Both kinds are reliable in their own ways. Sadly, however, Dwarves tend to make extremely poor singular leaders outside of their holds. The Humorrin are far too conservative and tepid towards taking a new direction, while the Aldor often drive their allies to folly chasing one of their fleeting whims or wild plans.
The Humorrin political system is a relatively simple one. Every hold must have a Khazur of twelve Elders. If an Elder dies, they must be immediately replaced, and at any time the community that elected a particular Elder can exchange in a replacement if they can agree as a unit. The Khazur essentially serves as a ‘face’ for the Hold; they handle trade deals, immigration, negotiations, and inner-hold disputes. Rarely are the Humorrin politically divided due to their incredibly traditional mindset, so political issues are extremely rare for a Khazur to tackle. When these issues are raised, the most conservative option is almost always taken. Tension is infamously difficult to settle all things considered. Dwarven holds are surprisingly huge, rivalling the size of Human Kingdoms, and difficulties frequently arise when such a large demographic is governed by a council of only twelve. Lashing out against the Khazur is not unheard of, but most Humorrin opt to steel their emotions and continue on in the face of unfairness.
Aldor practically have no politics of their own, since they lack any sort of unity as a race. Most are politically apathetic and carefree, with a fleeting, critical interest of politicians and their craft. Others may be straight up anarchistic, and work to disassemble or slander political movement simply because they disagree so vehemently with it.
Aldor culture is effectively an anti-culture by nature. Aldor are free spirits and innovators at heart, and may defy the culture of whatever homeland they originate from simply because they want to. They follow their cultural cues when it suits them and not a moment longer, brazenly defying the defined and the expected. This isn’t to say that Aldor don’t follow rules, it simply means they’re more logical thinkers than not, and struggle with the concept of doing something just because it’s been repeated for centuries past. Aldor appreciate arts, impulsiveness, and progression. They’re usually the first to call for revolution in any context when displeased, and they make for engaging conversationalists.
Humorrin Culture is incredibly pragmatic and rigid, with a strong emphasis on each Dwarf pulling their weight. Indecision is looked down upon, with a Humorrin Dwarf generally being expected to take to a trade at maturity and stick with it for life. This culture-ingrained lifelong dedication makes the Humorrin natural masters at their crafts, if not a little jaded or uninspired. Some Humorrin will take to their craft with flying colors, while others will find it unfulfilling and exasperating. Both are expected to follow their choice to the grave. The concept of artists are lost on the Humorrin, who entrust what little decoration they embellish to their craftsmen. In Humorrin culture, beauty is functionality, so only the most functional, critical, and integral items are embellished with the runes and script the people consider appealing. Cornerstones of bridges, for example, are often ornately decorated, as might be the central pillar of the Khazur’s chamber. The Humorrin also practice blocky, squared-off tattooing. Traditional Humorrin tattoos always originate from the chest over the heart, as it’s seen as the integral piece of the Dwarf’s body. Proud or successful Dwarves may have their tattoos stretch to their fingertips or knees, but the design will always originate at the heart.
Most Aldor nowadays are Unionists, Old Gods worshippers, or agnostic. Humorrin, however, keep to their old ways as always, with continued worship to the Dogma of Duindin. This obscure religion is loosely comparable to ancestor worship, though the particular focus is on Duindin himself. Nobody truly knows who Duindin is. Most holds’ Elders will speculate, but these often conflict. Some imagine him to be the first Dwarf, others say he was one of the first Elders. All that can be said for sure is that the religion began early on in the Hold of Ølovomm.
Homage is payed to Duindin through material sacrifice once a month. Traditionally in holds, all Dwarves gather in a massive coliseum-like structure with a central, huge bronze bowl over a forge fire. The bowl is always engraved with a crude history of the Dwarven people. One can find accounts of the Dregodar and Dakkar conflicts on bowls today. Worshippers can (but aren’t forced to) come forward and lay items in the bowl for sacrifice. Typically these are notable tools, weapons, or crafted goods. A smith may sacrifice the hammer he used to forge his finest axe, for example. As the fire is lit, worshipping Dwarves sing in a low, sustained chant as the sacrifices smolder to ash or evaporate. While participation in the sacrifice is not mandatory, it is encouraged that every Dwarf participate from time to time. This encourages detachment from material goods, promoting the communal system the Humorrin follow while simultaneously defying the prospect that Dwarves are greedy.
Only the two remaining holds, Grebor and Aldruin, have their own standalone economies. One of which is very weak. The Hold of Grebor has quasi-abandoned its communist ways of old and thrives on foreign trade. In truth, what Humorrin remain in the hold still operate in their traditional way, segregating themselves both physically and financially away from the swathes of other races that have since come to populate the hold. Grebor uses the Regal to promote foreign trade. The Hold of Aldruin has very little spending power comparatively, mostly due to this traditional method of wealth redistribution. Currency is not used, and trade is done through simple bartering of goods. What income the hold acquires is gained entirely from the occasional rare outside trade, or the far more common occurrence of raiding Ailor settlements.
Combat and Warfare
Combat has long been part of Humorrin culture and life. The Raiding of Ailor settlements was commonplace in the past, and the modern Dakkar conflict keeps them from becoming complacent. Shields are a favourite due to the race’s small size, generally making them good defenders. On the flipside, more brutalistic Dwarven populations such as the Aldruin Dwarves favour low-defense, high-offence tactics, employing strong, two-handed weapons. Casualties with this tactic are obviously high, but the Humorrin are well aware that they heal faster than most other races they face against. Even if their first assault fails, one can always bet that the Humorrin will be healed and ready for a second attack before the defenders can heal their wounded.
Aldor, on the other hand, make for poor combatants. Low mobility is universal across Dwarves, but without the greater strength of the Humorrin, the Aldor are left lacking. However, they certainly shouldn’t be underestimated if allowed up close. Their compact size and greater flexibility than the Humorrin makes them capable wrestlers, especially when faced against more frail races like the Nelfin. Generally, Aldor make up for their lack of combat ability by being great smooth-talkers, diplomats, or quick-thinkers.
- Dwarf blood is actually a fairly useful alchemy ingredient. In Human species, it benefits and mildly accelerates the healing process when mixed into a salve.
- Aldor have the capacity to become very talented philosophers, but are also incredibly prone to becoming layabouts, charlatans, and entertainers.
- While unheard of in earlier years, half Dwarf, half Elf crossbreeds are an emerging rarity in mixed-race cultures. Mockingly or endearingly referred to as a "Dwelf" or "Dwelves", these crossbreeds can loosely be described as pygmy Elves. More accurately, they resemble short, stocky (though considerably less so than the Aldor) half-Elves. Even with the natural height of most Elves, they rarely exceed the Dwarven height spectrum.